Tag Archives: dinner

Indulgently Indian

Thalis in Indian cuisine, are my weakness. The sheer variety and sight of small vatis or katoris with different dishes in a glistening thali attract me. The Grand Thali Feast at Soma, Grand Hyatt Mumbai which begins today and goes on until July 23, daily for dinner, naturally was something which beckoned me. I was fortunate to get a preview last night.

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Curated by Chef Vinod Singh Rana of Soma and his team, the thali looked delightful and appetizing as expected. In fact I even witnessed the thalis being set in the spotlessly clean and well-planned kitchen.

I opted for the Non-vegetarian option with laal maas, a typical Rajasthani preparation of mutton which is lip-smacking. Naturally, that was the first dish I tried and it turned out to be one of the best lal-maas preparations I have ever had. Often hyped, it disappoints owing to too much spice and a rich and heavy gravy. But this one was a palate-pleaser. The yogurt was just right, as were the other spices and the texture of the succulent mutton pieces, slow-cooked, were just the way I enjoy mine.

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The other dishes on my thali included Rajasthani bhindi, sev tamatar, batata-nu-shaak, kadhi, dal, khichdi, thepla, rotla, puri, rice and of course lot of farsan in the form of khandvi, dhokla, samosa, patra made of arbi leaves, et al. Each dish was distinct in its flavours and textures and obviously painstakingly prepared. The taste of each Rajasthani and Gujarati dish was authentic with no room for compromise.

Desserts were the highlight of my meal with malpua and rabdi and of course the quintessential, moong dal halwa, as I have an incurable sweet-tooth.

The quality of ingredients was expectedly the best and the flavours shone through with ease. A sumptuous meal, perhaps difficult to finish, but enjoyable nevertheless. I was satiated. The meetha paan served in a traditional manner was the perfect finale to this grand thali meal.

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One can also enjoy an array of delightful cocktails and mocktails themed to compliment the menu from their a la carte beverage menu.

Given the variety and the fact that it is unlimited, as well as being priced at an all inclusive price, at Rs 999 for veg and Rs 1111 for Non-veg, this thali is a steal and every gourmand fond of the diverse flavours of Rajasthan and Gujarat must head to Soma soon. Furthermore, the thali has 4 rotational menus, so even if you land up more than once in the ten days, you are likely to experience a new set of dishes.

Rating: 4/5

 

A little British, a lot Bengali

The majestic grandeur of The Sahib Room & Kipling Bar at St. Regis, Mumbai, replete with a colonial feel is unmistakable. The aura this place exudes, befits the kind of food that is served here.

Currently running a special British Raj menu available for lunch and dinner till 31st May, the offerings celebrate Anglo-Indian cuisine, albeit with Chef Gopal Krishna’s twists. From JW Marriott Kolkata, this chef’s menu naturally leans heavily on Bengali cuisine, so he is serving the Anglo Indian cuisine of Bengal.

Anglo Indian cuisine may have common roots, but differs subtly in each state in terms of spices and the usage of local ingredients, incorporated over a period of time. Being from Kolkata myself, I was of course not complaining.

The Anglo-Indian cuisine which evolved in the Dak bungalows, Army canteens (Mess), gentleman’s clubs and the Indian Railways kitchens has been faithfully included in this menu.

The Daaber Jol which was nothing but fresh coconut water, rejuvenated me, as we settled down. Later, with my meal, I relished the Gondhoraj lebu shorbot – a refreshing cooler made with lemon and sugar, for which I have a tremendous weakness.

A Yellow lentil soup with apple, curry powder and cream, was what I began my meal with. A creamy texture, yet one, which offered a bite. It was absolutely comforting and a great way to begin a meal. There was an option of the celebrated Mulligatawny Soup too.

Dhungari Murgh Tikka

Kumro phool bhaja aka Crisp Fried Pumpkin flower, Dimer Devil Crumb or fried potato filled eggs, Betkir Paturi Mustard, poppy and coconut flavoured steamed Bhekti fish, were some of the starters, characteristic of Bengali food, that I sampled.  The essence of the flavours was captured to perfection. The dimer devil boasted of the right amount of masalas in the crust, just as the way it should be.

Subz Dum Biryani

What blew me off completely was the simple, but fragrant Dak bungalow chicken curry, a mildly spiced chicken curry from Anglo Indian cuisine. It was the quintessential Anglo Indian curry, I have grown up eating in erstwhile Calcutta. It opened a floodgate of memories for me. The only thing missing was simple steamed rice. Rotis and parathas don’t do justice to this preparation.

Dimer Dalna – an Egg curry with potato and spices, was equally authentic and well-made. Balanced flavours all the way.

Vegetarians need not despair. Mochar ghonto or Banana flower cooked with potato and coconut, is delightful and mildly flavoured. The core ingredient was intact and nowhere overpowered by spices. There are several other dishes to choose from as well.

The menu also includes few of Sahib’s signature dishes like the Satwar piste ka shorba  orToasted pistachio and asparagus cream soup, starters  like Broccoli dak bangla  and kasundi mustard.

We rounded off our meal with Bengali desserts like the Ledikeni – a cottage cheese dumpling fried and soaked in sugar syrup, Mishti Doi or the Jaggery flavoured homemade yoghurt.

A meal I would not describe as strictly Anglo-Indian, but inspired by the cuisine nevertheless. What struck me as praiseworthy was Chef’s tribute to the flavours of Bengal in an authentic manner. And I was pleased as punch at having savoured one of my favourite cuisines- Bengali.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

 

Small Plates, High On Flavours

Sometimes dining at a restaurant can prove to be a strain on the wallet and that is why, a foodie like me, welcomes concepts like the Small Plates Week by Cellar Door Hospitality.

Powered by Insider, a 10-day culinary event on till June 26th, this features 15 of Mumbai’ s finest informal dining restaurants, offering small plates at a uniform price across the city. Kudos! This way diners can sample a wide variety of the restaurant’s culinary offerings.

I opted for Burma Burma, the popular Burmese food eatery at Fort, Mumbai. The menu for Small Plates Week features a minimum of 6 vegetarian and non-vegetarian savoury dishes each and 4 desserts and the one here too, was varied. What’s more, one could order each small plate on the menu and reorder servings of any particular small plate they enjoyed. No wastage, this way and I absolutely endorse that.

My Samusa Hincho, a soup with samosa arrived. Soulful and palate tickling this was with the tangy flavours and the delectable samosa. Nouvelle cuisine this sure was. I was off to a good start.

The three salads also struck me as unique, each with a nice, piquant flavour and distinct. The usage of Indian spices in the tempering made them even more interesting.

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The Pyaa jo kyaw, of Bengali origin was particularly interesting with the flavoursome grounded lentils, onions and coriander. The flavours were familiar and thus, comforting.

 

As we progressed with our meal, the dishes kept on surprising me with their quality and flavours.

The Naan Pe Bya got my vote instantly. The bread was fresh, hot and delicious and the perfect accompaniment to the chickpea puree with coconut milk, spices et al. It was satiating as well as palate pleasing. The spices were just right, not overpowering but teasing the taste buds a wee bit.

Small Plates Week gives the restaurant an opportunity to showcase their best dishes that represent the culinary philosophy of the establishment, while allowing diners to discover new restaurants through extensive menus.

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The Burmese steamed buns were well-made but paled in comparison to the other dishes. The Khow suey, which Burma Burma is known for did not disappoint me. Only the boiled egg, I thought was missing, as that’s how I enjoy mine.

A huge fan of desserts, that is invariably the best part of my meal. But Burma Burma could spruce up in that department. The Shway Aye was decent, but the sweet quotient needed to be more, if it is to be termed as a dessert. Oh No Thanya Paukse or the steamed buns filled with coconut and palm jaggery were a delight. The smokey avocado and honey ice cream although boasted of great flavours, was a tad disappointing owing to the ice crystals in it.The Tagy Pyi an was flat and insipid.

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Priced at INR 1,000 for lunch or dinner, per individual, exclusive of applicable taxes and service charges, the meals are a steal, given the variety and quality.

“A meal made up of small plates has some advantages – it allows diners to experience a variety of savory and sweet dishes and allows the restaurant to showcase dishes that give diners a feel of their culinary philosophy. If your ideal dinner conversation involves talking to your friends about your food, then shared plates are perfect. Small Plates Week allows diners to taste a variety of different dishes and then ask for more of the ones they liked,” elaborates Nachiket Shetye, Director and Co-founder of Cellar Door.

I could not agree more.
So make the most of it all you food lovers. On till Sunday, there is a lot to choose from.

 

 

 

 

A Lucknawi Daawat At Maya

There is nothing like upholding traditions or parampara. And even more so in food, especially with regard to our very own Indian cuisine. The Rivaayat concept which Oberoi Hotels have started at Oberoi Gurgaon and now at Trident BKC Mumbai, are thus close to my heart.

Having experienced Punjabi Rivaayat at Maya, Trident Bandra Kurla Mumbai last month, I was very curious about the Lucknawi Rivaayat by Dr. Izzat Hussain. Being from the Royal family of Lucknow and a Unani practitioner who loves to cook, this one was bound to be interesting.

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Particular about the spices he uses, Dr, Hussain does not believe in adding spices to his food without relevance or justification. No yogurt for marination for him, as he does not want to destroy the good bacteria it offers by cooking curd. Cooking for him is an amalgamation of science and art.

Our Raj pakoris arrive. A bite into the crisply fried pakoris and soft cheese fills my mouth. The kali miri or black pepper is predominant and lends these a unique flavour. The Neza kebabs, are well presented on tiny sword-like skewers and Rasika serving us explains that Neza means sword. These are supposed to caravan food according to Dr. Hussain.

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Succulent pieces of chicken, well-spiced, but not overpowered by spices, these Neza kebabs are a delight for the palate.

The Izzat Fried chicken too gets my vote instantly. Fried to perfection, there is no trace of the chicken getting chewy. Just the way I like mine. Nothing in today’s lunch is fiery thankfully.

The Patta kebabs or minced lamb kebabs, wrapped in cabbage leaves are a version of the famous Gelouti kebabs of Lucknow. Pure, soft meat, envelopes my taste buds. The texture is unique as are the flavours.

Amidst interesting food related anecdotes we bite into the Zarakhush paneer kebabs. Flavoursome, but not extraordinary.

The much awaited thali arrives, it is indeed a treat for the eyes and makes me want to tuck into it immediately. A myriad options. And there is a new combination daily for lunch as Dr. Hussain has curated a menu with over 50 dishes to choose from.

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The thali is on offer for lunch daily at Maya and dinner is a la carte for the entire duration of the festival till February 26.

The mutton chukander or beetroot mutton catches my fancy. Soft well-done pieces of mutton in a thick reddish coloured gravy. No artificial colours or preservatives in his food. The colour comes naturally from the beetroot.

The nariyal arbi too is a treat for the taste buds, soft and well-cooked. Arbi or colocasia has never tasted so good. The shahi cholas did not impress me as much.

But the highlight of my meal was the chicken with garlic or the Murg thoumb. Subtle flavours, but well meshed with the chicken and paired exceedingly well with Izzat ki roti, a signature Indian multigrain bread created by Dr. Hussain.

What struck me as extraordinary was the fact that although we were eating non-vegetarian fare, the food was not a wee bit heavy or rich. Even by the end of the meal, there was no discomfort.

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What can I say about the biryanis- both zaffrani and tursh? The aromas wafted into the air as the lid of the serving dish was lifted. Well-marinated pieces of mutton and the rice grains, separate, yet, homogeneously blended in the ghee and masalas. The chicken one was also delightful, although biryani lovers normally prefer gosht only. The light yellow hues came from the saffron only as opposed to the yellow colour we are used to in Mumbai.

Phirni, was what we rounded off our meal with. The consistency was a tad diluted as compared to the ones I have had in Punjab and Bengal, but Dr. Hussain insisted that’s how it is meant to be in Lucknow.

Flavourful and surprisingly light food which delighted all the senses, excellent company of Executive Chef Bhasin, Dr. Hussain, Shimareet, Kalyan and exemplary service by Rasika, made it an afternoon well spent.

Rating : 4/5

 

 

 

 

Jeon Comes To Juhu

Juhu, one of the upmarket western suburbs of Mumbai beckoned me yet again. This time, another stretch, another hotel. Hotel Sea Princess where I was stepping in after a decade or more. Nothing had really taken me here the last few years. The food was nothing to boast about but thankfully this has changed with Jeon, the all day dining restaurant that has opened recently.

Lamb stew with creamy polenta

Multi cuisine dishes is what this place serves and an extensive buffet for dinner as well. The food menu has been designed by gourmand Dharmesh Karmokar and their all day specials include a list of global and Indian favourites – Balti Spiced Chicken, Bekti and Crab Cakes, Macadamia crusted lamb rack, Mushroom Ravioli, Pizzas and an elaborate Indian menu.

A Chicken and fennel soup is what I began my meal with. Comforting, flavourful and aromatic. It appeased my taste buds instantly.

Balti Chicken

 

Chef Brian Louis recommended Balti spiced chicken. Well presented, I however found the dish did not live upto its name and was a tad too bland. The chicken skewers were grilled to perfection but lacked the zesty flavours I was eagerly awaiting.  The garlic mayonnaise served along, did not help.

The Bekti and crab cakes made up for this one though. Soft and creamy, the crab cakes were melt in the mouth with the right amount of flavour and zing to it.

The Harissa crusted Basa  we ordered for our Mains, was a pleasant surprise. Crisp, well fried and the crust lent a unique flavour to the fish. Served with pok choy and hollandaise sauce, it was a dish I will not forget easily. But the portions, I thought could have been more generous, given the price.

The ravioli in mushroom sauce was equally delectable and the ravioli was generously filled. Obviously the Italian fare here is good.

We decided to settle for desserts from the buffet and opted for a fruit custard and gajar ka halwa. The gajar ka halwa was sweet, creamy and the way it should be, but alas! the fruit custard with tinned fruits was a disappointment. The fruits, completely marred the taste of the custard. Fresh fruits would have been a better and safer bet.

Jeon Interior 2

Overall, Jeon with its lively ambience and chic decor, great service and good food has the potential to become a dining hotspot in Juhu, if a bit of tweaking is done.

Rating: 3/5